The decision will determine whether nurses can be considered "supervisors." Supervisors, traditionally considered to be employees who could hire, fire and discipline other employees, are not allowed to join unions, according to American labor law. The current problem stems from a 2001 Supreme Court ruling that found that the NLRB’s analysis of the supervisory status of six registered nurses at a Kentucky nursing facility was flawed. The Board is therefore required to come up with a better definition of "supervisor."
The problem is that some nurses act as "charge nurses," who are allowed to decide which patients will be seen by his or her colleagues. And despite the fact that charge nurses can’t discipline other employers, hire or fire, they could be considered management by an overly broad interpretation of the law.
But its not just nurses who are at risk. There are a variety of professional and other occupations where line workers are given some authority to give instructions to other workers. AFL-CIO organizing director Stewart Acuff,
300,000 nurses could be affected by the rulings and up to 1.5 million other workers. "Team leaders and gang leaders in ports, lead men in mines, lead men in docks at manufacturing facilities and warehouses, engineers, people who oversee apprentices in trades—almost every senior worker does this to some extent."The decision was supposed to be overnighted on Friday to the parties in the case. That would have guaranteed a Saturday announcement -- a perfect day for getting no press, which is what the Bushies usually do when they have bad news to announce.
But apparently someone at the NLRB in a rush to get to Happy Hour Friday afternoon forgot to drop the decision in the mail. Oops. That means it apparently went out today, guaranteeing lots of press tomorrow when it's announced.
UPDATE: The California Nurses Association wonder if it was more than just a simple boo boo:
"It's hard to imagine that the Bush administration 'inadvertently' missed a FedEx deadline. It raises a natural question. Did the corporations who have pushed for the decision receive advance notice while the NLRB withholds it from the labor movement, the millions of workers and patients who will be affected, and the general public?" asked Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of CNA/NNOC which represents 70,000 RNs in 44 states.
"If the problem were just 'deadlines,' maybe they should have used a unionized firm, UPS, instead," she added.